Looking back is a blessing and helpful – living in the past is not healthy and can hurt the way we experience the present. As Memorial Day approaches I have a distinct memory of traveling to a little cemetery in Mineola, Iowa. Eight of my Dad’s family members are buried there. We would pack a lunch early in the morning, pile in the car, and drive to Mineola. It was near the ancestral home of Dad’s family farm. The day before flowers were clipped and put in coffee cans of water for the trip. We would arrive and walk to the graves and Dad would gently place flowers on the graves and tell stories about each member of the family. We could look around and see little flags dotting the graves from the soldiers who had fallen. The picture in my mind of the little wind-swept cemetery on a slope near the village is mightily imprinted in my childhood consciousness.
Families are so scattered these days, rituals are often replaced by work, and stories have disappeared – replaced by artificial entertainment. Recapture the ritual of Memorial Day if you can. The celebration is as old as history in some respects but it dates back to an official holiday in the United States to around 1867 and a dedication in a song, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping,” by Nella L. Sweet. It celebrated the work of southern ladies who decorated the graves of the fallen soldiers. Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth and said, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15)
We remember because there is a present and a future – We are not without hope. There are causes worth living for and sometimes worth dying for. I personally want to honor those who have served to protect liberty in our country and paid the ultimate price. Thank you from all of America. We honor you and we remember.